Update February 2015: Some try to put the “chic” in chicken with these modern chicken coops.
*This blogger outlines six suggestions for free-ranging your flock of chickens.
* This humorous blog from Michael Perry looks at marauding chickens and a rogue outlaw clucker.
* This blog entry is about a farm couple who took on chicken raising with the right attitude and for the right reasons. Note: more “chicken raising” links at the bottom of this entry.
Raising Chickens–It’s Better than Television
Backyard chickens are the rage for various reasons—fresh eggs, homegrown meat, and family projects. My sister and her husband recently built a sturdy coop on their farm and stocked it with twenty chickens, but in their case, the reasons are more complicated—dealing with kids, dogs, and a grade-school smoking habit.
Mary and Doug have a grandchild and a hoard of relatives with kids, so they bought the chickens first off to teach
the youngsters responsibility and an understanding of where food comes from—and even as I write that it seems a bit didactic. Let’s face it. They just want the kids to have fun, and the little chicks are cute, while the goofy-looking animals they grow into are silly. As one local says about her chickens: “I pull up a lawn chair and watch them be stupid. It’s better than television.”
We had chickens on the farm when I was young, and although they didn’t teach me responsibility, I had fun finding eggs and catching runaways. I also remember the horror-movie atmosphere on butcher days—axes, blood, steamed feathers, and chicken innards. It put meat on our table, but we kids thought of it as something cool to explain for show-and-tell at school.
Mary and Doug might not admit it, but another reason for their chickens might be related to their dogs. They always have three or four around, and they come in various sizes and dispositions. Bertie is the Top Dog. The Great Dane is somewhere between four- and eight-feet tall depending on perspective—like if you’re standing, sitting, or on the ground getting slobbered on. Bertie arrogantly ignores the chickens, so Doug is hoping the dog will mentor the others—especially Trigger, a hunting dog that would have eaten twenty feather-coated chicken McNuggets by now if the woven wire fence had failed. I think the chances of this dog obedience system working are about as likely as finding a chicken with lips.
The final reason they purchased the chickens is a bit more complicated: Mary is reliving her childhood. She is younger than I, so our farm chickens were gone when she reached playing age, but the coop was still there. She and her cousin Nancy turned it into a playhouse, a pretend store, and a smoking lounge. They smuggled a cigarette into the tiny building and ended up starting a small fire. No real damage–and Mary claims she quit her smoking habit at the age of seven.
Farmers and city dwellers alike are counting their chickens, and even though most are after fresh produce, some might be looking for a bit of country living and maybe even a reflection of days gone by. I like visiting Mary and Doug’s operation. I can enjoy watching the chickens and know I won’t have to scoop the poop out of the coop. I also discovered the answer to an age-old question. Why’d the chicken cross the road? To get away from a dog named Trigger. by dan gogerty (photo from raisingchickens.com)